There comes a time of year when you can wear your witchiness out with pride, whether or not you are in the broom closet, and no one will give you a second glance. Even those who don’t practice witchcraft embrace their witchy side as Halloween draws near on the last day of October.
Samhain (pronounced sah-win) is the pagan holiday from which Halloween was born. This sabbat honors the death and the darkness of the Wheel of the Year. In the lunar cycle, it would represent the dark moon, the phase that comes right before the new moon when the sky is completely dark. Because of this, Samhain is often called “The Witch’s New Year,” and is considered to be the first sabbat on the pagan Wheel of the Year.
Traditionally, Samhain is a time to honor loved ones, especially ancestors, who have passed away. The veil into the spirit world is the thinnest and it is easier for spirits and ghosts to make contact. Because the veil is thin, protection is an important theme of this sabbat, mainly against uninvited spirits. Black crystals such as Tourmaline, Obsidian, Onyx, Shungite, Hematite, and Jet are a good choice for this time because of their protective properties.
Most of us understand dressing up and trick-or-treating as a part of this day, but what are some more traditional ways to celebrate the sabbat of Samhain? Keep reading for seven suggestions!
This is something you probably already do since jack-o’-lanterns have survived the test of time as a Halloween tradition. Originally, it was a turnip being carved to look like a frightening face that would scare the evil spirits away, sort of like a scarecrow of the spirit world. Later, the tradition was changed to pumpkins, which are much easier to carve and what we still use today.
If you’re not into the mess of carving, you can paint a protection sigil on your pumpkin! In magick and witchcraft, the pumpkin symbolizes protection, which is most likely why the tradition changed over to pumpkins. Setting one in front of your door is protective in itself and you can boost that power with your own sigil of protection.
Make Mulled Cider (or Mulled Wine)
With apples and warming spices associated with The Autumn Equinox still abundant, brew some mulled cider or wine. Bring this beverage to a Halloween party as a way to celebrate Samhain with your non-pagan friends. The nights are cool and a hot drink will warm you from the inside! You can make it on the stovetop or in a slow cooker if you plan to bring it to a party and want to keep it warm!
Ingredients for Mulled Cider
- 8 cups of real apple cider or dry red wine, depending on what version you want to make
- 1 orange, sliced with peel on
- 3 cinnamon sticks
- 3 whole star anise pods
- 1 tablespoon whole cloves
- 1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
- for that witchy touch, garnish with an apple slice on top (cut your slice horizontally to reveal the pentacle in the center)
Combine ingredients in a large saucepan or slow cooker and let simmer on low for an hour to allow the flavors to infuse into the liquid. Strain the contents before serving and enjoy!
Host a Dumb Supper or Graveyard Picnic
If you are celebrating with your family, a Dumb Supper is a great way to honor family members who have passed through the veil. The word “dumb” in this context refers to silence, and this supper is essentially a feast with the dead.
Set out a meal, especially with foods those who have passed on enjoyed, and invite their spirits to dine with you. You can put a place card or a photograph of a specific person you want to invite at their seat. Eat silently and remember the dead, listening for anything they might want to say. Leave some food at their place overnight if you would like to invite their spirit to stay.
If the idea of a Dumb Supper does not appeal to you, another option is to have a picnic at a graveyard. This setting allows you to reflect on the meaning of Samhain, the graveyard of the dead and the food you are eating that is giving you life, reminding us that all things are cyclical and death is not something to be feared.
Create an Ancestor Altar
Because of the focus around honoring the dead, setting up a temporary ancestor altar is a beautiful idea for this sabbat. Clear a surface and arrange photographs, votive candles, and items that remind you of the deceased family member. In a dish, set out an offering for them in the form of a favorite food or drink of theirs. On Samhain Eve, after nightfall, light the candles and say a prayer or a blessing to your ancestors. Thank them for their time in your life and reflect on the memories you have with them.
Guide Wandering Spirits by Candlelight
Another use for the votive candle is to simply place it in the window the night after Samhain. As the spirits are making their way back to the other side of the veil, the candlelight is said to guide their path and ensure they safely cross over.
Dive into Divination
I’m a tea lover so my favorite type of divination to practice on the sabbats, especially Samhain, is tasseography, or reading tea leaves. The veil being thin makes it a great time for divination. You are close to the spirit world and can divine information you may not have been able to before. Just make sure you are properly protected!
Other forms of divination include reading the tarot, mirror scrying (black obsidian scrying mirror), rune casting, pendulum dowsing, and automatic writing. If you celebrate Samhain with a bonfire you can even try pyromancy, divination by forms appearing in flames, which would be a fun activity to do with friends!
Cast a Protection Spell
Not everything wanting to come through the thin veil is friendly. Take some time before this sabbat arrives to ward your home with some protection magick. You can do things such as the sigil pumpkin mentioned earlier, a protection spell jar buried on your property, or a protection candle spell which I will go over next!
Ingredients for Protection Candle Spell
- A black candle
- A tool for carving
- A heatproof plate
- A lighter or matches
- Warrior Herbal Alchemy Oil
- Protective Herbs of your choice
- Black Crystals of your choice
Cleanse the items you are using for the spell with the smoke of sacred plants. This will get rid of any unwanted energy the items may have picked up so you can reset them to your own intentions. To do this, use the tool to write the purpose of the spell into the candle or etch your protection sigil into the wax. Program the herbs and crystals you will be using by holding them between your hands, telling them exactly what you expect them to do. Then, dress the candle with the Warrior Herbal Alchemy Oil.
Place the black candle in the center of your plate. You can either use a small candle holder or hold your lighter or match to the bottom of the candle. When the wax slightly melts, you can secure it to the plate. Around the candle on the plate, sprinkle the herbs and arrange the crystals. Light the candle and use a prayer, mantra, or protection chant of your choice and let the candle burn down.
These are just some of the many ways you can celebrate Samhain!
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